The 2022-23 New England Patriots are not the Patriots of the past. The quarterback isn’t referred to as the “goat,” much of the coaching staff has changed, and there is no Gronk partying on Duck boats during championship parades. Many fans have faced this reality, but there are many who have lived in denial that it’s the same old Patriots who will play in the Super Bowl every other year considering Bill Belichick is leading the way. Candidly, New England is in a transition period after a multi-decade dynasty. So what should we think of the Patriots?
What We’ve Seen So Far
The Patriots have started the year with a 1-3 record. After an opening game 20-7 defeat away to the Miami Dolphins, New England edged out a 17-14 victory over a weak Steelers side in Pittsburgh. However, the last two games have resulted in setbacks with a 37-26 home opener defeat to the Ravens and a 27-24 loss away to Green Bay. The Dolphins, Ravens, and Packers are all teams that should be considered favorites to make the playoffs. None of the defeats felt like blow-outs, but rather costly mistakes that prevented victory. The injury to starting QB Mac Jones is cause for concern, yet the performance of rookie QB Bailey Zappe was promising last week against the Packers and can be read more in-depth here.
What Should We Think of the Patriots?
We can look to prior Patriots teams and see that tough defeats can be turned into fuel for a big winning streak. The most notable example, as highlighted by NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran, was the 2-2 start to the 2014 Patriots season. After getting blown out 41-14 away to the Kansas City Chiefs, New England was deemed “not good anymore” by ESPN’s Trent Dilfer. Those became infamous words as the Patriots went on to win the next seven games in a row. They ended the season as Super Bowl champions defeating the Seahawks 28-24.
Yet, as mentioned earlier, these Patriots aren’t the same Patriots of the past. Nonetheless, there are aspects of this year’s New England squad that should bring hope to fans. In the last few weeks, we’ve seen excellent rushing blocks from an offensive line that was ranked 7th in power rankings by pff.com. NBC Sports Boston also credited the team with a top-ten fantasy defense. The inclusion of deep threat WR DeVante Parker has been promising as well with a touchdown in each of the last two games.
A 1-3 record is not fitting for a Patriots team that has been competitive in each of their matchups, with all losses against strong opponents. This isn’t to say we should expect a resurgence to the level which we saw in 2014. New England fans can have hope that they should come away with more victories in the next few matchups. Next week they host the 1-3 Detroit Lions, then travel to the 2-2 Cleveland Browns, both of which should be winnable games against weak defenses.
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